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Kid-friendly culture 

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It's easy to imagine that the blessing of warmer weather arrives with the puzzle of how to fill up more than two months when the kiddos are sprung from school. And it's understandable that adults might not want their time to be eaten up completely with events geared entirely toward children.

Many of our local cultural institutions offer kid-friendly elements and programming, which sprinkle a bit of education or sophistication on the recreation roster of bounce-houses and theme parks. The following spotlights just a few special events and offerings to consider for this summer; for more events, visit our online calendar at rochestercitynewspaper.com. And if you have a favorite arts-related event you like to share with your kids, leave a comment below this article online.

Perhaps the most obvious one is The Strong National Museum of Play (1 Manhattan Square). The entire museum is focused on the value of play in children's lives, and originally based on a collection of toys, games, and objects that hone the imagination and promote creative ingenuity. It would take up the whole Summer Guide to discuss all of the elements — video games, interactive exhibits, story times, visits from cartoon characters — that makes it a fun day trip for kids and adults alike.

An award-winning display of fairy houses from The Corn Hill Arts Festival Fairy House Tour will be on display at The Strong from Monday, July 13, through Friday, July 17. Kids can make a fairy-themed craft, try on butterfly wings, and meet a woodland fairy or elf from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. Admission to the Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden will be half-price that week (which is usually $4, or $3 for members, and free to kids under 2, in addition to normal museum admission), and on Monday only, "Fairy Houses" author Tracy Kane will be present for a meet-and-greet. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. Admission to The Strong is $13.50 for ages 2 and older, and free to members and kids younger than 2. Museum hours are Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 263-2700 or visit museumofplay.org.

Genesee Country Village and Museum (1410 Flint Hill Road, Mumford) offers a variety of year-round events that speak to the history nerd in all of us. In addition to a casual visit to learn about life in the 19th-century village, you can take in the War of 1812 Bicentennial & Jane Austen Weekend (June 13-14), see a Civil War Reenactment (July 18-19), and watch a traditional Base Ball Tournament (August 7-9). Depending on your kid's interests, some of the aforementioned events will keep them engaged while still appealing to adults.

For the older, inquisitive children, consider one of the three After-Hours Village Tours, which provide a behind-the-scenes look at spaces not normally seen by visitors, led by museum experts. Each tour runs from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., is limited to 20 people (pre-registration is required) and has its own theme: Upstairs & Downstairs (June 26), Ghost Stories (July 24), and Mayhem and Murder Stories of Western New York (August 28).

Autumn Katerle cheers after winning second place in the Gurning competition. - FILE PHOTO
  • FILE PHOTO
  • Autumn Katerle cheers after winning second place in the Gurning competition.

Through August 30, GCVM is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. General all-day admission is $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and students, $10 for ages 4 to 18, and free to members and kids ages 3 and under. Admission to special events is priced slightly higher. For more information, call 538-6822 or visit www.gcv.org.

Rochester Museum and Science Center (657 East Avenue) features many kid-friendly, hands-on, educational exhibits, so it's a ready-made field trip. RMSC is taking part in The International Year of Light, with a year-long series of events and exhibits about light, energy, and optics. Of interest to kids and adults alike is the spectacular Electricity Theater (a year-round attraction) with musical Tesla Coil demos. Shows take place Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 12 p.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m.

"Illumination: The World of Light and Optics" opens Friday, June 26, offering opportunities to explore the behavior and properties of light and optics technology. Also starting that day is the Inventor Center's light-based technologies challenge, in which kids can create a device that lights the way as they fly a weather sensor into a simulated storm.

RMSC is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $13 for adults, $12 for seniors and students, $11 for ages 3-18, and free to members and children younger than 3. For more events and information, call 271-4320 or visit rmsc.org.

Don't overlook RMSC's Cumming Nature Center (6472 Gulick Road, Naples), which hosts family-oriented hikes through trails, including the upcoming Secrets of Lilliput hike, to be held Saturday, June 27, 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. This hike through the woods will get kids acquainted with the fragile and valuable minutiae in nature while they search for pixie cups and tiny British soldiers, and hold tiny earthworms and bugs. Admission is free for RMSC members, $3 per person, and $10 per family. For more info, call 374-6010 or visit rmsc.org and follow links to CNC.

Walking around a relatively silent museum where objects are hands-off may seem decidedly adult, but the Memorial Art Gallery (500 University Avenue) offers some exhibits and tours that are specifically geared toward capturing the imagination of children. The Art & Story Stroll series, held nearly monthly, is an hour-long story-reading and art-viewing experience meant for kids ages 2 to 5 with an accompanying adult. The next event, booked for Thursday, June 18, will feature Creative Workshop instructor Suzanne Kolodziej reading "Round is a Mooncake, A Book of Shapes," by Roseanne Thong. Participation is $5 per adult and free to kids. Preregister by calling 276-8971.

A young muesum-goer inspects a butterfly at the Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden in the Strong National Museum of Play. - FILE PHOTO
  • FILE PHOTO
  • A young muesum-goer inspects a butterfly at the Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden in the Strong National Museum of Play.

The MAG also offers the Gill Discovery Center, with long-term installations geared at engaging kids' interests in art and cultural objects and their historical context. The current interactive exhibit is "Renaissance Remix: Art & Imagination in 16th Century Europe," which is set up to allow visitors to experience the world of the Renaissance through the eyes of a young boy, whose world has been transformed by the invention of the printing press, the "discovery" of the New World, and an explosion of intellectual and artistic energy.

This exhibit is included in regular gallery admission: $12 for adults, $8 for seniors, $5 for students and kids ages 6 to 18, and free to members and kids ages 5 and younger. Admission is half-priced after 5 p.m. on Thursdays. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and until 9 p.m. on Thursdays. For more information, call 276-8900 or visit mag.rochester.edu.

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